Mortgage Refinancing 101

Even before you’re ready to replace your current home loan with a new loan, you may be asking yourself, “Where do I start? Who should I talk to? What documents will I need?” In other words, the mortgage refinancing process may seem a bit overwhelming. The good news is there are steps to refinancing that are simple to follow. Take a look at the five steps below to begin your walk down the path to refinancing your home mortgage.

Set Your Re-fi Goals

Just like any other journey, the route to mortgage refinancing must have a destination. Some common refinancing goals include lowering your monthly payment, paying down the principal, withdrawing the equity in your home to pay off high-interest debt, and shortening the term of the loan. If you’re planning to move in five years or more, you may have other goals like re-investing the equity in smart improvements to increase your home’s resale value.

Know Your Credit Score

Having a great credit score usually translates into securing an excellent interest rate. That’s why knowing your credit score before you refinance is important. Does your credit score need some work? Take the time and effort to improve it. You may save yourself thousands of dollars over the term of your mortgage by earning a lower interest rate. A full credit report including your credit score is usually available free of charge from your bank and from many online resources.

Determine Your Home’s Equity

Before you refinance, call your lender to determine the payoff on your current mortgage. Then, have a trusted real estate agent show you a list of comparable properties (similar in size, age and updates in your neighborhood) that recently sold. Knowing the current market value of your home and subtracting what you owe on your current mortgage will help you determine the equity you have before you refinance.

Research Interest Rates

Knowing in advance the interest rates offered by various lenders will give you an advantage when you decide to refinance. Rates often differ by what seem like small amounts, but those fractions of percentage points add up over time. As well, depending on the type of loans you may qualify for, different home loan programs, such as VA, FHA, USDA and conventional offer different interest rates. Do your homework: research the best mortgage loans with the lowest rates that meet your needs.

Gather Your Money and Documents

Before applying to refinance your home mortgage, collect the necessary documents and data about your debt and assets, including income tax returns, W2s, bank statements, credit reports and personal identification. Also, be ready to pay closing costs by setting aside money in advance (about two to five percent of the appraised market value of your home).

With more than 20 years of experience helping individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations with their finances, Donohoo Accounting Services is here to help you with your tax planning, tax filing and accounting needs. If you would like to set up a free consultation, contact us at 513-528-3982. For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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How Tax Filing Will Be Different In 2021

The coronavirus pandemic brought unforeseen challenges to all aspects of business around the world, so it should be no surprise that it will impact this year’s taxes as well. Coronavirus legislation and inflation adjustments changed some of the most influential tax rules. Here is what you can expect to be different when you file your taxes this year.

February 12 is the opening date, and April 15 is the deadline

The first day to file in 2021 is February 12. We were all given a tax filing extension last year, but we’re back to April 15 for 2021. That doesn’t mean you can’t get an extension; but remember that being granted an extension only gives you more time to file your taxes, not more time to pay what you owe.

Charitable Deduction

The CARES Act allowed taxpayers to deduct up to $300 in monetary deductions in 2020 even if they chose to take the standard deduction. This was the IRS’s way to encourage Americans to contribute more money to charity during the pandemic.

Higher HSA Limits

Contributions limits for HSA-eligible workers who elected to participate in high deductible health insurance policies increased by $50 for self-only coverage (from $3,500 to $3,550) and by $100 for family coverage (from $7,000 to $7,100).

Higher Retirement Account Contribution Limits

Some workplace retirement accounts have higher contribution limits in 2020, so be sure to check yours. To illustrate, 401(k) plans had a base contribution limit of $19,000 in 2019, but that increased by $500 to $19,500 in 2020. For those who are age 50 and older, the catch-up contribution limit increased by $500 also, from $6,000 in 2019 to $6,500 in 2020. This means that if you are age 50 or older, you could potentially contribute a total of $26,000 ($19,500 + $6,500) to a 401(k) plan in 2020.

Higher Standard Deductions

Each year the IRS adjusts the standard deductions for inflation. This reduces the amount of income that is subject to federal taxes. In 2020, the IRS raised the standard deduction by anywhere between $200 and $400. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Married filing jointly: (+400 from 2019) – $24,800
  • Married individuals filing separately: (+$200) – $12,400
  • Head of household: (+$300) – $18,650
  • Single: (+$200) $12,400

Donohoo Accounting Services realizes these changing tax rules are hard to understand and stay on top of. When it comes time to file your 2020 taxes, you don’t have to do it alone. We are here to help you realize and take advantage of every tax deduction you are entitled to. We have been filing tax returns for individuals and small businesses for more than 20 years, so we are well versed in tax laws and rules and can help save you money, time and headaches.

If the thought of filing taxes fills you with dread or stress, please call Donohoo Accounting Services at 513-528-3982. We can handle the details and ensure you are receiving the tax credits, deductions and refunds you deserve. For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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Four Important Tax Tips for Nonprofits

As the close of the calendar year approaches, it may seem to be too early to start thinking about tax season. On the other hand, now may be the best time for nonprofit leaders to begin gathering the advice – and the documents – that they’ll need to maintain their organization’s tax-exempt status for 2021. These four important tips will help to get you on the right track:

Know Your Forms

Even though tax-exempt organizations don’t file taxes, most (except religious and political nonprofits) are required to annually file what’s known as a 990. However, there are four different IRS Form 990s. Which form your organization completes depends on its size in terms of its assets, gross receipts and funding sources.

  • Form 990-N (now only filed electronically) is for nonprofits that take in less than $50,000 from public sources over the course of the year. The form’s eight questions make it quick and easy to file.
  • Your nonprofit will file Form 990EZ only if it had less than $200,000 in gross receipts from public sources or it has a total of less than $500,000 in assets.
  • If your nonprofit is a non-public tax-exempt organization, such as a private foundation that uses the resources of an endowment or other privately-funded sources, then 990-PF is the required IRS filing.
  • Finally, IRS Form 990 is the form for large, established nonprofits that had $200,000 or more in gross receipts throughout the year, or if its assets total $500,000 or more.

Maintain Good Records

Having accurate records of your nonprofit’s finances are, of course, important to have throughout the year, as well as at tax time. But they aren’t the only records necessary for filing your 990. It’s also important to maintain detailed records of the organization’s structure, its board members, salaries paid, and its departmental and programming budgets.

Depending on the organization’s make-up, you may be required to file additional schedules with your 990. In addition to having this information accessible at tax time, prospective donors will appreciate your nonprofit’s transparency if it’s also available when they’re researching organizations worthy of their contributions.

Do a Double-Take

Because your annual 990 tax filing is essentially an application to retain your organization’s tax-exempt status, submitting an incomplete or incorrectly completed form may result in penalties, rejection or denial of its nonprofit standing. That’s why having someone check your work – and especially, to verify the accuracy of your records – is so vitally important.

Trust a Professional

Although software, websites and well-meaning individuals may be available to walk you through the process of completing your nonprofit’s Form 990, consider hiring a tax professional to do the job. Working with a tax professional not only saves time, but it also may save you the headache of re-filing in the new year. Donohoo Accounting Service is prepared to answer your questions before, during and after the tax-filing season. Talk with one of our accountants or schedule an appointment today by calling 513-528-3982 or contacting us via our website. Check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for our latest updates!

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6 Common Mistakes Business Owners Make on Their Taxes

Filing your small business’s tax return may be a dreaded task you’re tempted to put off until April 14, but we advise that you don’t. That’s because mistakes are made when you’re in a rush, resulting in interest charges, penalties or unwanted attention from the IRS. Mistakes can be avoided by being prepared and planning ahead. Here are the 6 most common tax mistakes business owners make:

Mistake #1: Filing late

It’s important to file your taxes on time to avoid a 5 percent per month penalty by the IRS (that increases until the return is filed), a 6 percent interest penalty and a late payment penalty. You can request a filing extension, but you will still need to pay a portion by the original due date. It’s better to avoid the headache, be organized and file on time.

Mistake #2: Not paying estimated taxes during the year

If you are a sole proprietor, S corporation, are self-employed or a partner and you expect to owe $1,000 or more when you file a return, you are required to make estimated tax payments throughout the year. The same is true if you are a corporation expecting to owe $500 or more in taxes.

Mistake #3: Not having organized, visible financials

Using Excel to track your income, expenses and receipts might suffice when you are first starting out, but once you get bigger you will need a program that is more robust. Your financials need to be up-to-date, accurate and all in one place so you can make good tax and cash decisions.

Mistake #4: Intermingling personal and business expenses

It’s important to keep your business expenses separate from your personal ones. You can do this by having a separate bank account and credit card for your business, and always use your business credit card for business expenses. Even if you purchase both personal and business items at an office supply store, use different credit cards to pay for them so you can keep those expenses separate.

Mistake #5: Not tracking expenses

Throughout the year you need to save receipts, log the business miles you put on your car and track your expense categories. Did you know that only 50 percent of certain business meals are deductible? Platforms like QuickBooks and Freshbooks can help you keep track of expenses, and apps like MileIQ can track your business mileage.

Mistake #6: Not getting professional help

It may be tempting to save money and do everything yourself, but unless you know what you are doing, it could cost you time, money and headaches in the end. Consider consulting with a bookkeeper or accountant throughout the year to make sure you have good processes in place come tax season.

Donohoo Accounting Services has more than 20 years of experience helping clients with their tax and financial issues. Advising small businesses on their taxes is what we do best. If you have any questions about preparing your taxes or would like to know more about the services we provide, please call us at 513-528-3982 for a free consultation.

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